Our first pre-season fixture in preparation for the 2017/18 campaign ended victoriously, as Queens Park Rangers were downed 2-1 in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Hogwood Park.
All goals were scored in the first half in the first game of the Saturday double-header; Roy Beerens and Ryan East each found the net, before Conor Washington grabbed one back from the spot.
But the focus was about getting match-fit – and 22 players got game-time, including a young batch of players from the Under-23 and Under-18 squads.
Within minutes of the pre-season schedule beginning, the Royals had carved out a couple of good chances – firstly Josh Barrett forcing a fingertip stop from a tight angle, and then Stephen Quinn seeing a close-range effort deflected just past the woodwork.
Luke Freeman was the first to register an effort for Rangers as the visitors were being forced to work hard for the ball – it was little bother for goalkeeper George Legg, who saved comfortably.
The opener was deserved when it came, before the quarter-hour mark. Some good work on the left between Barrett and Quinn allowed Sam Smith to deliver a low cross for the arriving Beerens, who tapped in unchallenged from close range.
Smith found goalkeeper Matt Ingram equal to his terrific effort to deny Reading a second; more work down the left saw Quinn thread into Tyler Blackett, whose pinpoint cross was met by the head of the onrushing striker, but the goalie held at the second attempt.
Reading’s second came before the break when a ball into the area wasn’t dealt with effectively, allowing East to stab in from close range.
That two-goal advantage was only short-lived; Matt Smith drew a foul in the box, allowing Washington to send Legg the wrong way from the resulting penalty.
More of the same after the break – Beerens had a low effort blocked by Nedum Onuoha as the Royals pushed for a third. But QPR could have been level a moment later, only for Matt Smith to lean back on his effort from the edge of the area.
In roles reversed from the first goal, Beerens almost turned provider for Smith; a low block denied the forward. And his namesake Matt Smith, at the other end, collected a straight ball forward in the area but his control was astray, allowing Jake Cooper to mop up.
With 20 minutes to play, it was all change – a group of 10 from the Under-23 batch were introduced to play the remainder. Lewis Ward had taken to the field in place of George Legg at half-time.
Darnell Furlong and Freeman each had headed chances in the final 10 minutes; the former’s effort was tame and saved by Ward, and the latter’s effort looped harmlessly over.
In the final minute, Jordan Holsgrove slipped a ball through to Joel Rollinson; his low cross, aimed to Conor Davis, was hacked away.
But that was the last action of the match as a young representative side held on for a victory.
Full-time: Reading 2-1 Queens Park Rangers
Reading starting XI: Legg, Frost, Blackett, Cooper, Moore, Van den Berg, East, Quinn, Barrett, Beerens, Smith.
Reading subs: Ward (HT), Howe, Medford-Smith, Andresson, Osho, Coleman, Wieser, Green, Holsgrove, Rollinson, Davis (all 70).